Garabedian said the church has an obligation to provide victims with the validation of seeing their abuser named.
Lawyer to list church’s alleged abusers
More than 100 will be named
Frustrated that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has not published a list of priests accused of abusing minors, a Boston lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims plans today to release his own list of more than 100 alleged abusers.
Mitchell Garabedian said yesterday that he would hold a press conference this morning to announce the names of priests, members of religious orders, and former employees of the Catholic Church named in sexual abuse complaints for which he has obtained settlements or arbitration awards.
He said he would also post the 117 names, 99 of whom served in the Boston Archdiocese, on his firm’s website.
Garabedian, who said he has represented more than 750 victims of sexual abuse by clergy, said he is publishing the list because Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has not fulfilled a promise he made almost two years ago to release a comprehensive list of priests who sexually abused children in the Archdiocese of Boston.
The publication of such lists has been a top goal of victim advocacy groups, and a number of dioceses around the country have posted them.
Garabedian said his goal is “to provide the necessary transparency that the church does not provide, transparency that allows victims to heal and protects children.’’
BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse by clergy around the country, lists on its website the names of 222 accused priests and members of religious orders, all of whom were at some point assigned to work in Boston.
Garabedian’s list includes 18 alleged abusers from Boston who are not on the list posted by BishopAccountability, a discrepancy that highlights the challenge facing outside groups trying to compile such lists.
The Archdiocese of Boston, asked about Garabedian’s plan, issued a statement outlining the steps it has taken to protect children from abuse and said it is working on developing a list of accused clergy.
“We remain committed to augmenting our present policy in the area of disclosing additional information about credibly accused clergy,’’ said Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. “At this time, our work on this important undertaking is ongoing. We continue to evaluate the complexities of this initiative, especially those associated with disclosing information relating to deceased priests or those accused of a crime whose guilt or innocence has not been established, and the serious due process concerns this presents for those accused.’’
In a March 2009 letter to the chairwoman of a committee advising the archdiocese on child protection policy, O’Malley suggested he was on the verge of releasing a list of clergy accused of abuse and the status of the cases against them.
But Garabedian said that even if an alleged perpetrator is dead and no longer a threat to children, the church has an obligation to provide victims with the psychological validation of seeing their abuser publicly named. He also said that by not releasing the names, the church retains an advantage over victims in settlement negotiations.
“If you bring a claim and you say, ‘X molested my client,’ they can say, ‘Well, we have never heard of X molesting a child before,’ ’’ Garabedian said. “I’ve decided to end the secrecy.’’
Terence McKiernan, who is the founder and codirector of BishopAccountability.org, plans to appear at the press conference to discuss the 18 previously undisclosed names.
Garabedian said at least one of the 18 is working in a Catholic library in Texas, but that he did not know whether other priests in that group are employed by the church or whether they are dead or alive.
McKiernan’s organization has long criticized O’Malley for not releasing a list of alleged abusers, and he praised Garabedian for his decision.
“Behind each of these names is the story, and that story is in the possession of the archdiocese,’’ he said. “It behooves them, it seems to me, to step forward at least and tell us what those stories are.’’
Lisa Wangsness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.